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What policies are posted to this site?

Policies that apply across the University are posted to this site. Many Northwestern schools and units maintain their own policy pages, featuring policies that do not apply beyond the school or unit, and therefore are not posted to this site. For more information, please see our School and Unit Policies page.

Can a school, department, or unit adopt its own policy on a matter already governed by a University Policy?

Yes, so long as the school, department, or unit policy does not conflict with the University Policy and is made accessible to the University community. The school, department, or unit policy may be more restrictive than the University Policy.

I am responsible for reviewing and updating policies at my school/unit. Should I notify anyone of these changes?

Our aim is for this site to serve as a convenient resource for those throughout the University community to access current policies. If your school or unit houses a University Policy on its webpage, we encourage you to please share any policy updates (including changes to the policy’s URL).  Please contact us at Additional information on reviewing and revising policies is outlined in these FAQs.

Who can address questions relating to a policy’s interpretation or implementation?

Please refer to the policy document for information on where questions regarding the policy’s interpretation or implementation may be directed. Generally, such questions may be directed to the Responsible Office for the policy. The designated Responsible Office is typically the office that developed the policy and therefore charged with the policy’s review and update; the Responsible Office should be specified in the policy document.

If you are unable to determine the Responsible Office for a given policy, or if you have additional questions regarding a policy after contacting the Responsible Office, please contact

What is the role of the Policy Review Committee?

Northwestern’s Policy Review Committee is a standing University committee whose role is to advise the Northwestern community on policy development, to review and approve new policies and substantive revisions, to ensure that policies are properly approved and implemented, and generally to support the policy development and implementation process at Northwestern.

What are the differences among guidelines, procedures, and policies?

Guidelines—documents that serve to explain existing policies or otherwise do not mandate or restrict action—may be adopted at the school, department, or unit level without following prescribed procedures for developing University Policies. Similarly, procedures that detail the steps necessary to operationalize and implement policies may be adopted without formal review. However, documents should not be labeled as guidelines or procedures as a means of avoiding the policy development and approval process.

At the same time, not all communications need to be adopted in the form of a University Policy. When reviewing policy proposals, the Policy Review Committee may determine that the proposed policy should be implemented at the school, department, or unit level, or that it should be adopted as guidelines or a procedure instead of a policy.

Questions as to whether a given document is set of guidelines, a procedure, or a University Policy may be submitted at

Who can initiate a new policy?

Any Northwestern school, department, or unit may initiate a new policy. Members of the University community who are interested in initiating a new University Policy are encouraged to contact the relevant responsible office and consult with the Policy Review Committee at

How are policies developed and approved?

Once the need for a new policy has been identified through consultation between a Responsible Office, Approving University Officials, and the Policy Review Committee, the Responsible Office will lead stakeholder engagement and policy development. Policies should be drafted using the standard policy template.

The Policy Review Committee may be consulted during policy development before reviewing and approving a policy. Once the Policy Review Committee approves a policy, the policy must be approved by all named Approving University Officials before the new policy is published with effective and review dates and the Responsible Office carries out any additional steps to communicate and implement the new policy. Policies will undergo assessments one year after implementation and every three years thereafter.

A flow chart outlining the policy development and approval process is available.

How is the Northwestern community notified of new policies or policy revisions?

The Responsible Office, in consultation with the Policy Review Committee, will coordinate the communication of new policies and policy revisions. Newly-adopted policies and policy revisions are available in the searchable repository on this website.

Who is responsible for reviewing and updating policies?

The Responsible Office for a policy is charged with ensuring that the policy is assessed in a timely manner, reviewed, and updated. This site provides guidelines for administrative updates and guidelines for conducting a thorough and thoughtful policy review. The Responsible Office should be indicated on the first page of the policy document. The Responsible Office should notify the Policy Review Committee when policies are due for review.